With the release date fast approaching, Howard Shore, composing for Scorsese for the umpteenth time (they collaborated on The Aviator, Gangs of New York and The Departed most recently) sat down with Variety to discuss how this score came together. The opening 10 minutes of the film is apparently virtually dialogue free, leaving Shore’s score very much front and centre:-
“The score uses a lot of themes and motifs and variations,” says Shore, “It’s written in an older style. In the first reel of the film, the first 10 minutes, you hear seven main themes of the film. It’s a very through-composed piece. … The score is about an hour and 45 minutes — a really extensive score for one of Marty’s films.”
Shore adds that he was greatly assisted by the copiously illustrated 2007 issue of the source book, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” and sought to work with instruments that would have featured in the time period – turn of the (20th) century France:-
“Not only is the writing very good, but the illustrations and the design of the book are wonderful. So it brought me into the story very early, in a very vivid way. The Ondes Martenot (an early electronic keyboard from the late ’20s) was used. Other solo instruments included guitars and percussion from the late ’20s/early ’30s. Piano was also used very specifically for a sound from the late ’20s … (I also used) musette, a French accordion. Symphony orchestra was the primary instrument used, and then there’s a sextet, a small group, that was really part of the orchestra, and they became the soloists that you hear through the film.”
With his work on Hugo now done, Shore has returned to Peter Jackson, with whom he successfully worked on the Lord of the Rings films, to score the two-part adaptation of The Hobbit.